History of our Asheville B&B

Christened "Swannanoa Hill" by original owner William E. Breese, our estate once stretched to the banks of the river and uniquely positioned her as a neighboring property to the Biltmore House. This opulent and impressive Asheville mansion reflected Mr. Breese's stature within the community as the founder of First Bank of Asheville and prominent socialite.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this magnificent example of Victorian architecture continues to capture the eye of onlookers, traveling into the city of Asheville, as she has done for over 128 years. The winding drive up the hillside reveals high-pitched twin gables, turrets and delightful expanses of gingerbread trimmings and ironwork. Stately stairs and an elegant entrance way of beveled and leaded glass add to the exterior of this imposing structure, but does not adequately prepare visitors for what awaits them inside.

Cedar Crest is Victorian splendor. Rich hardwoods were in abundance in the 1890s, and the first generation oak and walnut displayed throughout is witness to the fact. Each area of the home is elaborate and different, possessing unique qualities and features only to be surpassed by the Biltmore Estate itself. Cedar Crest has been described as offering appreciation on a "closer to reality " level of craftsmanship and materials, purportedly done by some of the same artisans enlisted by Mr. Vanderbilt himself.

The gorgeous grand foyer walls and ceiling are paneled in rich oak. An imposing grand fireplace, obviously influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement so prevalent during the 1890's, serves as the centerpiece of this receiving area. A Tiffany stained glass window, richly colored in shades of teal blue and harvest gold, is accentuated with a single jeweled piece. Complementing all this is the main staircase, capturing your attention and tantalizing your curiosity.

Delicate, delightful detail is the key feature of the parlor woodwork. The Baroque-style mantel is surrounded by fluted columns, medallions and richly carved crests, with the original beveled glass mirror. The eye travels up the walls, where the 12 foot ceilings meet the dental design work and caved swags. The fireplace is surrounded by original tiles while a charming Victorian cherub dances over the flames against the bronze cast fire back.

What was once the Gentlemen's Room, now referred to as the Study, invites you in with its rich, warm golden oak paneling and tiered mantelpiece. Tall windows are crowned with impressive cornices, and the entire space topped off with an entertaining shelf for seasonal displays. In the early days, this room would have been reserved for the gentlemen to enjoy their cigars and brandy, with the ladies gathering in the formal parlor. Today, everyone relaxes here in comfortable reading chairs by the fire, or listens to music from the beautiful, tiger-oak player piano!

The Dining Room is generously treated with spindled woodwork that travels overhead creating a grid like pattern. The walls and ceiling boast William Morris reproduction papers. This popular English craftsman incorporated the Victorian love and fascination of nature within his designs. Vining raspberries and blossoms, deer and rabbits, add a lighter air to what would normally be considered a formal room.

In addition to our grand Victorian Mansion, our historic charming Cottage and Carriage House offers additional guest rooms just a few steps away.